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At a Monday meeting of the Cambridge City Council, some residents praised the recent transformation of a section of Garden Street into a one-way road while others voiced frustrations with the change.
The segment of Garden Street between Huron Avenue and Concord Avenue has been one-way heading east since bike lane construction began on Oct. 28. In public comments and written communications to the Council, many residents said that heavy traffic is now redirected to side streets in the area, such as Walker Street, leading to safety concerns.
The city is constructing bike lanes to fulfill the goals of the amended Cycling Safety Ordinance, a 2020 policy passed by the Council requiring the construction of more than 25 miles of separated bike lanes in the coming years. The city has also begun constructing bike lanes on Brattle Street and will soon start installing lanes on Hampshire Street.
During the meeting, the Council unanimously voted for a policy order asking the Department of Public Works and the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department to meet with residents in the affected area and “discuss strategies to mitigate and reduce overflow and cut through traffic,” including whether it would be feasible to revert back to two-way traffic.
The order asks city staff to produce an initial report in December.
Councilor Paul F. Toner, who co-sponsored the policy order, said it does not call for going back to two-way traffic but rather gives “cover” to city staff to consider it as a “potential option.”
Toner also emphasized that “in no shape, way, or form” does the order call for the removal of the separated bike lanes from Garden Street.
The order “simply asks for us to get a report on the feasibility of any mitigation changes, including the potential of reverting to two-way if that’s the best solution,” Toner said.
Several councilors said the decision to make a portion of Garden Street one-way followed resident feedback that adding bike lanes on a two-way street would remove too many parking spaces.
Some residents who commented during the meeting spoke in favor of the bike lanes.
Clyve Lawrence ’25 said during public comment that the construction of bike lanes ends the city’s “continued failures to put safety first, to put people first.”
“Providing separation between people in cars and people on bikes decreases the chance that a momentary distraction leads to a deadly crash,” said Lawrence, who writes a Crimson Editorial column on transportation in the Boston area.
But others said the changes to Garden Street pose safety concerns of their own. Jay H. Wickersham, a former lecturer at the Graduate School of Design who lives on Walker Street, said the “well-intended” changes have nonetheless “created a series of poorly designed and dangerous intersections” in the area.
“Community members have documented daily safety risks and potential or actual collisions that could result in injury or even death,” Wickersham said.
—Staff writer Elias J. Schisgall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @eschisgall.
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